Tech-Angels help keep seniors connected through donated devices
Three young Rancho Santa Fe brothers started a nonprofit called Tech-Angels, collecting gently used cell phones, iPads and tablets to give to elderly people in nursing homes so they can stay connected with their loved ones. Eleven-year old twins Jaiden and Keanu Seeliger, and 10-year-old brother Milaan have been able to distribute 15 devices so far to seniors in need across the country.
Their mission: “Help our elders connect, laugh and learn.”
Jaiden, Keanu and Milaan are just finishing up the sixth and fourth grades at The Cambridge School. During the pandemic, they saw how important technology is to allow families and friends to stay in touch, especially to those in nursing homes who weren’t allowed in-person visits.
The boys were inspired to create the nonprofit after their 97-year-old great-grandmother broke her leg and had to move to a nursing home in New York. Divided by miles and a global pandemic, they were fortunate to be able to FaceTime countless times with her.
Milaan said she had a phone and knew how to use the device but they found out there were other seniors who lived in the nursing home that did not have that same, easy access to their children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.
“We all thought of the idea together, we talked about it and said ‘Let’s make this happen’,” said Jaiden.
To get devices, the boys held a successful technology drive through their church, North Coast Church.
Tech-Angels incorporated as a 501c3 nonprofit and the boys’ mother Dimple Shah serves as one of three advisors. She is incredibly proud of her three sons’ generous hearts.
“It’s really important for the kids to recognize ways to use their skills to give back and to appreciate the elderly,” said Shah, noting that the boys are able to share their technology expertise while learning so much by making intergenerational connections with those that they help.
Last week, the Tech-Angels had the opportunity to donate over a dozen devices to Indian nursing homes in New Jersey so residents could have the opportunity to see their loved ones back home in India, which recently experienced a deadly second wave of COVID-19.
They have also focused their efforts on the veteran community.
“We’ve tried to find a lot of veterans because they’ve given a lot to our country and community so this is a gift we can give back to them,” Keanu said.
In May the brothers visited Florence, Arizona where they donated a device to Harpo Celaya, one of the remaining survivors of the USS Indianapolis, the World War II ship that delivered the atomic bomb components and was then torpedoed on July 30, 1945. The ship sank in 12 minutes and the crew was stranded in the ocean for five days facing dehydration, hypothermia as well as shark attacks.
Of the 1,195 men on the ship, only 316 survived. Including Celaya, only seven survivors are still alive today.
“I think about it every night,” Celaya told the boys.
The USS Indianapolis Legacy Organization and Honorary Survivor Sara Vladic helped connect Tech-Angels to Mr. Celaya and the boys said it was an amazing and unforgettable experience to be able to meet him and hear his story.
“I just feel honored to meet Mr. Celaya,” Keanu said. “He was just a boy who hadn’t even finished high school and he had already gone to serve our country and possibly save countless lives.”
The boys helped Celaya connect with his family virtually for the first time through a donated iPad— he previously had a flip phone and had never done a video call before. The boys were able to help teach him how the iPad worked and watched him make a FaceTime call with his daughter in San Jose. Milaan said Celaya cried out in excitement when he saw her face—the daughter remarked on how handsome her father looked.
After helping Celaya, the Tech-Angels are now hoping to find a way to connect with all the remaining Indianapolis survivors.
The boys are continuing to accept donated devices and are also looking for more people who are in need of devices: all information is available on their website tech-angels.org. Donated devices should be in good working condition and the boys remind donors not to forget accompanying chargers and cords.
“In the Bible, Galatians 5:13, it talks about using your freedom to serve one another and one of the Ten Commandments is ‘love thy neighbor’ and that’s what we’re trying to do for all of the people that we’re trying to give devices,” Milaan said.
Jaiden said his favorite part of being a Tech Angel has been seeing the expression on people’s faces and how much joy they have in seeing their family.
“We want to help as many people as we can,” said Keanu.
To learn more, visit tech-angels.org
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